Cherrapunji, Meghalaya - Double Decker Living Root Bridge and Rainbow Falls(Part 2)

Day 3: Double Decker Living Root Bridge, Rainbow Falls:

This post is going to be about general info and also experiences in blue. Skip whatever is not needed.

This is a trek of 3000-3500 man made steps excluding all the distance to be walked. I am not sure of the exact distance, but this is what my mobile shows for that day: 16.5 KM and 142 floors!

In all my life, I have been only to one trekking before this- Kudremukh(Karnataka) and I boasted about it to everyone all the time as if I trek all the time.

So just having one point of reference, I , being foolish and looked down upon this particular trek. And I have never been so wrong!

Double Decker Bridge:

Double Decker Bridge is a bridge made of natural roots of trees across streams. When the trees are young, their roots are weaved to form a bridge. Over a period of time, these roots strengthen and weave more on to each other. These living root bridges are quite common in Meghalaya. Some of them are supported using bamboo sticks, rocks and ropes. Double Decker Bridge is one such bridge - only more awesome - being double decked(surprise, surprise).

To reach the bridge, you need to trek to Nongriat village starting from Tyrna village. Tyrna is about 15 KMs away from our hotel in Cherrapunji.

At Tyrna, you can hire a guide or you can go all by yourself. We hired guide because we are weak noobs. And no, we didn't regret the decision - you will find out why.
Guide's fee to Double Decker from Tyrna: Rs.600/-

You can buy snacks and drinks here. You will find only few other shops in between - one near starting point and one near ending point. Near bridge, you will find one more shop.
You can also buy a stick to support yourself all through trekking for Rs.20.

We carried a camera and a backpack to carry extra clothes to get into water and some snacks.

Tyrna View

This is us starting at Tyrna - applying sunscreen, wearing sun-glasses, chewing gum as if we are going to play cricket finals. I was taking rest by sitting only at clean areas. Few locals at a shop were looking at us amusingly as we prepared ourselves for the battle. We didn't buy a stick - you just don't start the battle cry with a puny walking stick. Just before starting our descent to Nongriat, our guide picked up a stick from nowhere and offered us as if he had a sudden insight into our dark future. I let my husband take it. I had camera in my hands and I was clicking away every single rock and pebble. My husband was carrying backpack and just after reaching the first shop, he was too tired. So our all-knowing kind guide offered to carry the backpack, which my husband happily got rid of.

After descending many steps in scorching heat, I was still quite active surprisingly. Then came the suspension bridge across a stream that had these big boulders. This "bridge" is just a flimsy collection of few metal rods that shakes. This is when all my energy and life were sucked out of me - the bridge was my dementor. I am so scared of heights that I avoid looking down even from first floor. I hate anything that involves heights - flights, roller coasters, cable cars etc and here it was - the bridge that seems like it will fall into the stream at the drop of a hat. I braved on somehow(I have no idea how) and took my first steps with the guide walking in front of me and my husband behind me - heart beats fast. My floaters would keep getting in between the spaces of rods - heart beats faster. I avoided looking down through the rods and into the stream down. I tried to focus on the guide's footwear all the way. One step at a time. Bridge starts shaking - heart's tubthumping. I yell at my husband to not shake bridge and he answers that he isn't shaking the bridge and calmly says that two more people are walking on the bridge behind him who are carrying these heavy gunny bags of cement/sand. So five people and heavy load shaking up the bridge - when the warning board clearly says not to shake the fricking bridge. I can only hear my heart beat from this point on wards and couldn't understand the "tips" from my husband on how to walk on the bridge so that floater won't get stuck in between the rods. Who cares man, I'm gonna die anyway. This is when my thoughts were all about ghastly news headlines - "Woman falls to death from bridge on to a boulder". But I didn't die. I crossed the bridge.
First Suspension Bridge
First Suspension Bridge
First Suspension Bridge View
First Suspension Bridge View

Just when I was happy that it was all over, after some distance, we came across another suspension bridge across another stream - at least this one qualifies as a bridge - it was sturdy enough and didn't shake too much. If not for the first bridge, I would have been very scared here. But because of the first bridge, I was only little scared.

Second Suspension Bridge
Second Suspension Bridge

Then comes a simple living root bridge over yet another stream with a shop by it's side. We bought glucose here and mixed it up in water. It's just few more steps to Double Decker from here. But we were too tired and we took long time to reach there. At Double Decker, there's another shop.

Living Root Bridge
Living Root Bridge

Living Root Bridge View
Living Root Bridge View

All the trekking so far seemed so worth it - the view was fab with a big Double Decker bridge and waterfalls in front of it flowing in to a stream under the bridge(downtown,I could not get enough-sorry,had to do it). It seemed like a real wild forest.

Double Decker Bridge
Double Decker Bridge
Double Decker Bridge Stream
Double Decker Bridge Stream

Double Decker Bridge Path
Double Decker Bridge Path

There is a changing room over there and we quickly changed over to get into water. The cool water after long hours of trekking under sun was so relaxing. We gave all our stuff to our guide and he held on to them patiently till we got out of water. After clicking few pics, I wanted to start our return journey knowing that it will be exhausting and slow to ascend all those ~3K steps and it was already 12 ish by then. My husband had other ideas, he decided that Rainbow Falls is where we should go next. I gave in after some persuasion.

Rainbow Waterfalls:

After having Maggi at the shop viewing the bridge and waterfalls, we started to Rainbow Falls.
Guide fee to Rainbow Falls from Double Decker: Rs.400/-

Another suspension bridge just like the first one, but never ending. It's probably more than double the length of the first one. My fears find me again. Similar musings - "Woman falls to death from the eternal bridge into stream and floats away to never-returning-lands". What would be my last words? "Fly, you fools"? I got way too scared and asked if we can go back and skip Rainbow Falls under the pretense of exhaustion. Our guide oblivious to everything crossed the bridge already and we called him back. So he came back(probably cursing us). This is when the Bangladeshi gang whom my husband met at Double Decker arrived and told us that Rainbow Falls is just 15 minutes away and going back is total waste. It seemed foolish to back out after all this trek. So I walked.On the bridge. Focusing on my guide's footwear diligently.
"I think we crossed" - not even at the middle of the bridge.
"Are we there yet?" - nope, long way to go.

Third Suspension Bridge
Third Suspension Bridge

Just after crossing this one, there's one more living root bridge. I can't describe the amount of frustration I was feeling because of all these bridges. It's as if this trek is designed by ZNMD team to make me face my fears. Sure, I was feeling pretty alive(toh zinda ho tum).

Second Living Root Bridge
Second Living Root Bridge

Now comes the part when the stick would prove it's usefulness. Rocky way all along and exhaustion from the trek so far - walking stick was quite supporting. The Bangladeshi gang just lied to me to make me cross the bridge saying that the Rainbow falls is just 15 mins away. It was not. They lied to me again calling me a "strong woman". I again fell for it and let my ego inflate. I tried to behave as if rock climbing is all I do everyday.

It started drizzling. Great.

We came across this stream/pool where you can get in, but we just wanted to reach Rainbow falls asap, so we didn't stop here.

After ages of trekking, we finally reached Rainbow falls. It didn't have a rainbow. You can't get into it. All my way, that was what motivated me - to get into water after reaching there. Don't get me wrong - It's beautiful with that aqua green water, but we were too tired by then.

Rainbow Waterfalls
Rainbow Waterfalls

We started our return journey.

My frustration turned to anger. I wasn't a strong woman. I started blaming my husband for pulling me into this, the guide who didn't warn me enough, the Bangladeshi gang for all their lies - for being all kind and encouraging me. My husband and I started scolding each other openly as we thought no one could understand us anyway - it's only later we realized that an entire college gang could understand us :-|

Same route. Suspension bridges. Streams. Wilderness.
"Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. I just need my bed."
It was getting dark.

Crossing shaking bridges was my forte by then(I should add it to my resume). Bring it on. I have no energy to be scared of heights, I just want it all to be done.

We had another Maggi and the best tea at the Double Decker shop in our return journey.

Then starts the eternal steps - I really have no words to describe the situation. Over-burdened wobbling legs. Darkness. Sweat. Broken back.
Just thinking about it makes me shudder and pity myself. It took every ounce of energy to ascend each steepy step. Now is when the stick became my Lord and savior. I held on to it and any railing wherever it was available to support myself to take yet another step.

Me:"How much more time? How many steps more?"
Guide: 1 hour, 2000 steps
Walks for eternity, crosses 300-ish steps
Me:"How much more time? How many steps more?"
Guide: 1 hour, 2000 steps
*cries on a mossy wet boulder and accepts fate*

This is us when coming back : sweaty, sits anywhere - even in water. Who cares about sunscreen and skin cancer!
Most of the time, you don't see other people and it was very comforting to know that the guide was with us. Sometimes he would walk fast and wait for us later. I got delusional and started thinking of only bed. I had occasional weird murderous and suicidal thoughts - 

"I can kill anyone here and get away with it" - *only naive husband in view*. 
"I can die here instead of ascending 2000 steps more."
I also thought about Hobbits a lot and I had new found respect for Frodo and Sam for walking for days.

We finally reached Tyrna around 7.30 PM. We started around 10 AM. It was over. We thanked the guide and bid goodbye. The locals who looked at us amusingly in the morning looked at us happily almost as if they were cheering(or probably laughing at us) when we returned - they probably thought that we won't make it.

I had sore legs for about 2 weeks and we couldn't walk like normal people for the rest of the trip. Everyone gave us weird looks as we walked like an aged couple.

Hotel: Cordial, Cherrapunji. Only good thing is the view of 7 sister falls and stream. Not much amenities.

Trek time for us : 1.5 hours from Tyrna to Double Decker
1.5 hours from Double Decker to Rainbow Falls and same vice versa.
2.5-3 hours from Double Decker to Tyrna - stopped way too many times.


  • Carry water bottle. Buy glucose and mix it in your water. 
  • Carry an extra pair of clothes and bag to carry them - if you want to get under waterfalls.
  • Shoes are probably better than floaters even though you need to get into water. Too much walking and climbing on floaters got me blisters on my feet.
  • Carry sunscreen - it's not like you will be in a state to re-apply in between, but just in case.
  • Carry sunglasses - it's extremely sunny and hot till noon.
  • Wear breathable clothes that would dry fast - you will be sweating a lot. 
  • Wear lot of deo.
  • Don't go for this if you have knee pains.
  • Carry raincoat for your bag, especially if you have camera in it.
  • Stick is your friend when your body gives up.
  • This is different from other treks - as it involves many steps and ascending so many steps after a tiring day gets very difficult. So brace yourself. It's probably not a good thing to keep trekking in the middle of your trip. We were limping and tired for the rest of the trip.
  • You may click many photos in the beginning, but you will get tired with heavy camera and backpack. I guess a good phone will be enough unless you are a serious photographer. Pack your backpack light or none at all - if you wear clothes that get dried easily, then you can skip carrying extra set of clothes. It's quite sunny anyway.
  • No shops after Double Decker till Rainbow Falls - buy drinks/snacks before leaving Double Decker.



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